Author Archives: mjp

Earworm Mashups

There’s a couple of tunes that are stuck in my head and mixed up with other tunes.

1. The theme to the podcast ‘Pod Save America’ (a good podcast if you skip the tedious pissing about in the ads and the cult of personality around certain of them) which I can’t find a good clear link to, but it keeps morphing (remember morphing? Ah, the 90s) into this gem:

2. John Lennon’s ‘Mother’, the opening theme to the FX TV show ‘Better Things’:

always seems to morph(!!??!?!) into Ph*l C*llin’s ‘I Wish It Would Rain Down’ (warning, self indulgent story bit at the beginning of the video, which cannot be saved by Jeffrey Tambor):

3. Robyn’s 2010 (surprisingly slow) dance hit ‘Dancing On My Own’:

and the drumless remix of Wire’s global worldwide smash hit chart topper ‘Ahead’:

Although the original is better IMHO:

Also stuck in my head for some reason are both the movie and album versions of The Who’s ‘Fiddle About’, possibly the most sensitive and empathetic treatment of the sexual abuse of a disabled person ever committed to a rock opera.

A Fortnight In The New Job

I’ve been in the new job for nearly a fortnight, so I’m taking a tea break to update you all. It’s been pretty straightforward so far. There have been some technical glitches, as is always the case with getting set up on the systems of a large company.

I’ll take some questions. You at the back. Grey shirt, no, you.

Where are you working now?

I now work for Bentley Systems, a software company from Exton, Pennsylvania. Their main products are Microstation, one of the two market leaders in CAD software (my contract includes a non-competition clause that says I’m not allowed to go and work for AutoDesk after this), and ProjectWise, a project data and documentation management system.

I’m based in the Dubai office, on Sheikh Zayed Road, just near the Emirates Towers.

Is it like Bentley the car?

No, different company.

What is your job?

I am a Senior Consultant, working in the Progressive Assurance section, and our product is ComplyPro, a hosted software-as-service environment based on the huge and complex IBM DOORS requirements management system, but with a friendly dashboard and tools to allow projects to get on with managing requirements, without having to deal with the complex operation and maintenance of DOORS.

I will be helping clients get set up, train them, configure their systems, work with sales during the presales phase, and generally travel around and be a helpful little munchkin.

Will there be travel?

Yes. There are a few projects around the place that need attention. I am joining a very small team, and they need me to dive right in and help out. I will need to go to Qatar to help out on the Doha Metro, which will mean I have worked on the same project, in three parts of the for three employers. After that will be Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, which is exciting because I’ve never been that far east.  Also mentioned have been Riyadh, somewhere in Australia (also very exciting!), and then of course a couple of things around Dubai.

How is it different from your previous job(s)?

In my previous jobs, I was often responsible for managing requirements using tools similar to ComplyPro, in a project environment. That can be quite stressful, with the emphasis on getting stuff done and out of the door, and sometimes with a tension between trying to do things the “right” way, and getting them done at all.

In this job, I’m with the vendor of those tools. Hopefully I won’t come across that tension, because the client is using the tool already. I’m sure it won’t all be plain sailing, but I needed to get out of projects.

Have there been any problems with the new place so far?

One glitch which caused quite some ripples is that my user name and email address had been set as “Matt Petty”. I requested it be changed to the more legally accurate “Matthew Petty”, especially if that would be shown to clients and so on. It took a few days for the impact of this change to ricochet around the systems. It turns out that this name was chosen because I had entered “Matt” on a form as being a preferred name (in truth I don’t mind Matt or Matthew). I didn’t realize it would be my email address. I feel a little silly asking for this change, especially because of the delays it caused, but it was a reasonable request.

How will you commute?

At the moment I am taking public transport. From my apartment I walk 3 minutes to Jumeirah Beach Residences 2 tram station, and take the tram around the Marina to Dubai Marina tram station (not to be confused with Dubai Marina Mall tram station). There I change to Damac Properties Metro station, and take the Red Line up to Emirates Towers. From there it’s a 5 minute walk to the office.

At the moment traveling like this is fine, because the weather is getting “cooler” as we approach winter. Today it will hit 36°C, which believe me is mild. The walk to the tram, and the walk from the metro to the office, would be nothing if this were a temperate climate. When we get into the nasty months where the heat hits 45°C and the humidity makes you feel like you’re breathing hot treacle, even that short walk might be too much.

That is a big problem that the UAE has – never mind the “last mile” between public transport and your destination, even a 5 minute walk might be intolerable.

-oOo-

That’s about it for now. I try and keep you posted. I’ve got a bunch of little projects I’m working on that I mean to write up here.

Top Trump Horror Cards – Help Me Find The Original Images!

I was clearing out some stuff from my keepsake memory box, and I came across my Top Trumps Horror Cards. Top Trumps was a big thing when I was a kid, and between my brother and I we had several packs. A paraphrased summary of the instructions from the  Wikipedia page:

Each pack of cards is based on a theme, such as cars, aircraft, boats, dinosaurs, or characters from a popular film or television series. Each card in the pack shows a list of numerical data about the item. For example, in a pack based on cars, each card shows a different model of car, and the stats and data may include its engine size, its weight, its length, and its top speed.

All the cards are dealt among the players. There must be at least two players, and at least one card for each player. The starting player selects a category from their topmost card and reads out its value. Each other player then reads out the value of the same category from their cards. The best/highest value wins the “trick”, and the winner takes all the cards of the trick and places them at the bottom of his or her pile. The winner then looks at their new topmost card, and chooses the category for the next round.

In the event of a draw the cards are placed in the center and a new category is chosen from the next card by the same person as in the previous round. The winner of that round obtains all of the cards in the center as well as the top card from each player. Players are eliminated when they lose their last card, and the winner is the player who obtains the whole pack.

The game lent itself more to things like cars, bikes, tanks and so on, because they had actual statistics you could play the game with. I remember playing the game on rainy caravan holidays in the UK.

“Cylinders: 6.”

“Cylinders: 8!”

“Grr, you win this round, Simon, but I’ll be back!” (this is honestly how it went)

I had the ‘Prehistoric Creatures’ pack, which stretched the concept a bit more, because the stats were things like how long ago the creature had existed, or how big it was. This made it interesting because the Diplodocus was very big and not that old (only 100 million years or something), whereas the Giant Dragonfly was really old (400 million?), and “only” two feet long.

However, the Horror Cards really took it to the next level… down. The statistics used were as follows:

  • Physical strength
  • Fear factor
  • Killing power
  • Horror rating

These values were scattered through the various creatures seemingly at random. Dracula at least got the 100 Horror rating, and King King got the 100 in strength. Other than that it was a crapshoot.

The artwork was hit and miss as well. Some of the cards featured scribbly stuff that wouldn’t be out of place in some dodgy D&D bedroom effort. Others featured pictures that were clearly copied from movie stills or promotional artwork – and that’s where I need your help. I’ve been able to identify some of the more obvious source images, but there are many I can’t find, and I need you fans of horror and schlocky monster movies to take a look and find the source images for the cards.

Check out the cards here, and see if you can find the missing source images!

 

Taking Stock: March 2017

Making
Nice piece of artwork for the children’s nursery. Quite proud how it’s coming out. Also, working on a coding/art/music project which is challenging and educational, if not aesthetically good in an orthodox way.
Cooking
We have an Instant Pot, so Cassie’s trying lots of new things. I’m still making my daily sandwiches, now including a couple of carrots to peel at work. I could leave the skins and scrub them, but that’s messier prep at home, and I’d need another container for them.
Drinking
Moroccan Mint Tea, my new favourite for the desk. I’ve had it at restaurants, with the fancy teapot, high-lift pouring etc. The teabags at work aren’t so fancy, but it’s a delicious refreshing sip.
Reading
China Mieville – “Embassytown” – usual stuff, society, structures, aliens, magic and tech. “The Tsar of Love and Techno” by Anthony Marra – grim af, how shitty must it be when you live in the Arctic Circle and miss the good old days of the USSR?
Trawling
…Through the bathroom cabinet, using up hotel shampoo, soap, airline toothpaste. It’s never enough for actual trips, so why not just use it up?
…Under the bed in the vacuum bags for old clothes that will never be work again, even if we go somewhere cold.
Wanting
World peace. A more stable and progressive future. A clear path forward for us. An idea of what will be next. A friend once asked what my five-year plan was. I didn’t have a next month plan – I wasn’t joking.
Plus lots of consumer items. I always find myself looking at watches.
Looking
At possible new places in JBR or the Marina. Busy area, lots of stuff right on the doorstep. Downside – possible noise from douchebags revving.
Deciding
Where to move to. A move of apartment would be a good thing now, especially to a cheaper place closer to my office with more of a Western social scene.
Wishing
We could create a FrankenApartment, with that location, this living room, that rent, this floor. We could teleport our stuff into the new place.
Enjoying
Coming home each day in time to have bathtime and bedtime with A&E, who are now splashing and chattering so much it makes my heart burst.
Waiting
For a $2.50 delivery from Hong Kong. For a first repeated coherent word.
Liking
My homemade muesli. I did try toasting stuff first, but now I just throw oats, raisins, shredded coconut, wheatgerm, and anything else I fancy into the big plastic ex-protein canister and shake.
Loving
A&E and their mother, obv.
Pondering
How do other people do it/manage/cope/organise etc? Exactly the thoughts the CBT doc says aren’t helpful.
Listening
The Pattern Forms, “Peel Away The Ivy” (my review here), and the old “Welcome To Mars” series from Ken Hollings.
Considering
Actually editing and publishing the Coiled Spring backlog of interview recordings.
Buying
As little as possible.
Watching
“Soundbreaking”, the PBS music production documentary. Fascinating and educational, even for the bits I already knew.
Hoping
We find a nice cheap place that ticks at least a few of our boxes.
Marvelling
At the effortless grace and smoothness with which all construction, bureaucracy, services and everything here is performed.
Cringing
see above
Needing
To do more exercise. A combination of lack of time and lack of will to overcome that lack, is making me very out of shape.
Questioning
What on earth is wrong with people. If society abandons those less well off, what do you think will happen to them? They’ll magically bootstrap themselves?
Smelling
The mint tea, and at home the Bitter Orange hand cream I’m still working through. My aging hands.
Wearing
The same Clarks Desert Trek I wear every day. So comfortable, great patina, shame the soles are now paper-thin and you can’t resole crepe (without some hassle).
Noticing
The weather here in Dubai is warming up. I stepped outside on my way to catch the Metro at 7am, and it was already balmy. Uh-oh.
Knowing
Things are possible, and that I can do them.
Thinking
I can’t.
Admiring
The people in the US resisting the blatant lies and cruel actions of 45’s administration.
Getting
Out of the rut of not bothering with things.
Bookmarking
Interior decor ideas, especially ones with DIY and/or scrap materials input.
Disliking
The commute. I used to get a ride each morning with a colleague who lived in the same complex. Since he moved, and we have one car, I’m taking the Metro and bus, and while it’s not horrible and quite cheap and modern, I’d really rather not be doing it. It’s getting hotter outside, and it’s a long journey (over an hour, mostly standing). The move should help.
Feeling
More in control, depending on the day.
Hearing
The clanging and calls of the construction workers over the road.
Celebrating
My children’s 15-month birthday.

If I Had My Document Way… Official Templates

If I Had My Document Way

…official templates would not be created by the unqualified.

That sounds snobby, but if you end up using a template that looks all right, but has all the problems I’ve talked about in these posts, then it becomes a problem for everyone. Don’t delegate it to anyone who has the time.

Give it to someone who has the knowledge and the experience to create something that is correctly set up and will hopefully prevent many of the issues we see.

 

Rock Family Trees in yEd

Over on the Coiled Spring, I describe how I drew a Pete Frame-style Rock Family Tree for Flange Circus, Zirkus, BBO, and all their related groups and people. I used the free diagramming tool yEd, which was great.

This diagram accompanies the latest episode of my podcast, which you can listen to while perusing the details of the seminal post-rock history.

Here’s the podcast anyway:

[mixcloud https://www.mixcloud.com/muteboy/coiled-spring-episode-18-flange-circus-zirkus/ width=100% height=120 hide_cover=1]

Baby Milestones, Part 1

  • Sleeping quite well, but not through the night
  • Outgrowing oversized new pyjamas in a matter of days
  • I finished both sample tubes of Indian herbal toothpaste that came in the goodie bags from the hospital
  • Twins now sleeping in their own nursery
  • Video monitor image jumps from time to time, giving fun “paranormal jump scare” effect
  • Different formula means different types of teats
    • (there are different teats with different speeds, which I did not know)
  • She’s wearing his hand-me-downs already, and looking good in them
  • Been peed on and pooped on, but not yet at the same time
  • I get in the bath with them in the evening, and I’m not looking forward to the inevitable poo soup moment. At least I’ll be in the bath at the time.

Birthday Boy/Man

It’s taken him 4 years, but my favourite older brother is finally 13 today. Happy Birthday, Simon!

Change Is In The Air

Even a couple of days ago, I had to wear a fleece to walk the dog first thing in the morning. This morning I was in shorts and t-shirt, and when I got out of my car at work, the parking lot was stuffy and warm.

The weather is beginning to think about warming up again, from the lovely 18°C we’ve been having to the brutal 40°C+ with stifling humidity we can expect.

I was reminded of the scene in the 1956 classic ‘Forbidden Planet’ where Dr Morbius realizes the invisible monster that slaughtered his whole crew has returned to wreak more havoc. He sits slowly at his desk, and says to himself,

“It’s started again”

New Audio Activity

I’ve managed to get another Coiled Spring episode out, and it’s available here. Now I’ve ironed out some glitches with the podcast creation script, I should be able to clear the backlog – so that means there will be a few more coming!

I’ve also been playing with other audio experiments, such as this phasing trick using the names of the twins:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/248554520″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]